​see the haunting and shocking images that won this year’s world press photo awards

The annual event celebrated the best photojournalism of 2015, with images of the refugee crisis, the Syrian Civil War, and the Black Lives Matter movement dominating each category.

by Felix Petty
Feb 19 2016, 9:27pm

Warren Richardson, Australia, 2015, Hope for a New Life

In the middle of the night on August 28, 2015 -- a few days before the dead body of Alan Kurdi was captured washed up on the shore of a Turkish beach and turned the world's attention to the human tragedy of the refugee crisis -- Australian photographer Warren Richardson was camped out at Serbian-Hungarian border. He'd spent five days on the border with the refugees making their way across the Balkans. The image he captured that night -- a grainy, black and white image shot without flash (the burst of light would've given away the position of the refugees crossing the border to the police) -- has just been announced as winner of the 59th annual World Press Photo Contest. 

The image's power and drama comes from its simplicity; all it depicts is a baby being handed between two men under a barbed wire fence. Yet, like all great photojournalism, the image manages to turn personal drama into a bigger story -- one that's been convulsing Europe and Middle East for the last year. Unsurprisingly, images from the refugee crisis dominated many of the other categories at this year's awards.

Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times. Refugees attempt to board a train headed to Zagreb, Croatia in Tovarnik, Hungary, 18 September 2015.

Sergey Ponomarev's work for the New York Times won first prize in General News Stories for his reporting on the crisis. He captured images of refugees arriving on boats in Lesbos, and followed their travels across Southern Europe. Mauricio Lima, also working for the New York Times, won General News Singles award for an image of injured 16-year-old member of the Islamic State being treated in a Kurdish hospital. Sameer Al-Doumy also won an ward for his reporting on civilian casualties in airstrikes in Syria.

Elsewhere, images of Black Lives Matter protests in Chicago, citizen journalists in Brazil, avalanches at Everest, and demonstrations against terrorism all picked up awards. See a selection of the best images below. 

Brent Stirton for National Geographic. Rangers exhibit their riding skills as they return to Zakouma National Park after weeks on elephant patrol. Zakouma, Chad, 07 January 2015. 

Mauricio Lima for The New York Times. A doctor rubs ointment on the burns of a 16-year-old Islamic State fighter named Jacob in front of a poster of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, at a Y.P.G. hospital compound on the outskirts of Hasaka, Syria on 01 August 2015.

Sakeer Al Doumy for Agence France-Presse. A wounded man walks out of a dust cloud following reported airstrikes in the town of Hamouria, Syria, 09 December 2015.

John J. Kim for Chicago Tribune. Lamon Reccord stares down a police sergeant during a protest following the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by police in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 25 November 2015. 

David Guttenfelder. A woman sits next to models of military weapons at a festival for the "Kimilsungia" and "Kimjongilia" flowers, named after the country's late leaders, in Pyongyang, North Korea, 24 July 2013. 

Corentin Fohlen. Demonstration against terrorism in Paris, after a series of five attacks occurred across the Île-de-France region, beginning at the headquarters for satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Paris, France, 11 January 2015. 

Bulent Kilic for Agence France-Presse. Islamic State members ask people to go back to city centre at the Turkish Akçakale crossing gate in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, 13 June 2015.

Francesco Zizola for Noor. Migrants wrapped in emergency blankets two days after being rescued catch sight of the Italian coast for the first time; Strait of Sicily, Mediterranean Sea, 23 August 2015.

Chen Jie. Aerial view of the destruction after the explosion in Tianjin, China, 15 August 2015. 

Sebastián Liste for Noor. Papo Reto collective members taking pictures and videos of the Special Police Forces tank car patrolling in the streets of Vila Aliança after a taxi driver was shot by police; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 08 February 2015. 

refugee crisis
World Press Photo Awards
Warren Richardson
hope for a new life
World Press Photo